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Colleges doing well, community spread up

Community spread is still on the rise locally, but the county’s colleges are seeing very encouraging trends in coronavirus mitigation.

As of Monday afternoon, Nov. 2, both Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College were down to just one active reported case of COVID-19 each.

Hampden-Sydney reported no new virus cases on its online dashboard between last Monday, Oct. 26, and Nov. 2. Additionally, the college’s number of individuals in quarantine dropped from 29 to 12 in one week.

Longwood University has reported only two coronavirus cases, both self-reported cases, on its dashboard since Oct. 26.

“They’ve really got a handle on it,” Piedmont Health District Director Dr. H. Robert Nash said of the colleges Monday afternoon.

The significant drop in coronavirus cases at the two institutions of higher learning, while encouraging, highlights the continued increase of community spread in the health district, particularly in Prince Edward County.

Nash said Monday that Prince Edward’s PCR, a benchmark for definite positive COVID-19 testing, has risen to 6.1%.

“That’s been kind of bothersome,” he said, “because it’s a little bit worse than the whole state, which I think today is about 5.5%, maybe 5.7%.”

According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Prince Edward County saw 37 new coronavirus cases in the week of Oct. 26 to Nov. 2.

“We’re seeing more community cases,” Nash said.

Nash highlighted that this is partially expected for Prince Edward, which is in some ways the hub of the health district, with greater population density than surrounding counties.

He added, though, that the county’s numbers don’t seem to be impacted by colleges or K-12 schools. And while the health department does have its eyes on some long-term care facilities that are seeing one to two cases here or there, no facility outbreaks seem to be contributing to the virus count.

Buckingham County has seen a noticeable increase in cases this week, with 31 new case between Oct. 26 and Nov. 2, according to the VDH.

Cumberland, which has been seeing very few new cases in the last month, increased by 10 cases this week.

“In Buckingham and Cumberland we’ve seen those little sporadic clusters out in the community,” Nash said. “I haven’t seen anything related to a facility outbreak in those counties at all.”

Nash said Monday the county’s seven-day rolling average has increased in the past week, but seemed to have leveled off in the past three to four days.